I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a stranger baseball game than the one between the Tides and the Charlotte Knights last Sunday.
- To begin with, the Tides won, 11-7. The Tides hit four home runs – two by Brandon Snyder, one each for John Hester and Brendan Harris – and the Knight hit three – two by Alejandro De Aza and one by Jordan Danks. Norfolk’s Harbor Park is widely conceded to be the best pitcher’s park in Triple-A baseball and may be the toughest park to homer in.
- There was a very peculiar play that resulted in the equally peculiar 9-6 forceout of a runner originally on second base. With the bases loaded and one out, Tide Nick Green lofted a soft fly ball into shallow right center field. Knights center fielder Jordan Danks dove for the ball and may or may not have “caught” the ball on the fly; however, he was unable to maintain possession when he hit the ground and the ball trickled out. Tyler Henson, the runner on first, could clearly see the ball on the ground and advanced to second. However, Brandon Snyder, the runner on first, didn’t have a clear view of the play and retreated to second. The second-base umpire hesitated before signaling “No catch”. Both Snyder and Henson were standing on second base when right fielder Dayan Viciedo retrieved the loose ball and threw it to the shortstop covering second base. Shortstop Eduardo Escobar tagged both Snyder and Henson; because Snyder was forced from second base, he was out when tagged.
- Had the Knights been more alert and faster-thinking on that play, they might have gotten a double play out of it. Jake Fox the runner on third base, hesitated between third and home. Had Viciedo thrown home, the Knights’ probably would have forced Fox at home plate. The Knights could then have thrown to third base to force Snyder, for an inning-ending double play. The results of the actual play were a run in, with runners on second and third. The next batter, John Hester, hit his three-run home run. So, instead of giving up four runs in the inning, the Knights could have escaped with no runs scored. (Note – it would have required extraordinary presence of mind for Charlotte to have thrown home to start the double play.)
- Knights’ starting pitcher Deunte Heath had amazingly good peripheral statistics for a pitcher giving up 9 earned runs in 5 innings. He did give up 8 hits, but he walked 1 and struck out 8. He was done in by 3 home runs allowed and a dropped third strike, which initiated the second of the Tides’ four-run innings.
- Knights’ manager Joe McEwing was ejected for arguing a home-run decision. Brendan Harris hit a line drive to left field which hit a screen above and behind the wall and then bounced back onto the field. McEwing obviously thought the ball hit the wall, rather than above it. The media in the press box saw the video replay and the ball clearly hit above the wall. In the ensuing press box discussion, some wondered if McEwing would look at the replay and think “I got myself ejected over THAT play?” Then, we wondered if McEwing would think instead “Finally! Something I could get ejected over! I can spend the rest of the evening in the air-conditioned office, and not in the dugout.” It was 97 degrees at game time.